Sunday, July 26, 2009

Multiple Personality Disorder

This documentary is about Multiple Personality Disorder (i.e. people possessing multiple personalities that control the body separately).
This means these people often have blanks in their memory and can't remember what the "other personality" did with the body while they were "away".

It's a documentary absolutely worthwhile seeing.

If you watch the video you might notice some small astonishing details:
  • In the case of the police officer, John, with Multiple Personality Disorder: John's dog "senses" whenever he switches to an "other personality" (the personality of a child in this case) and thus stops regarding him as his master. As a result the dog enters the living room - something he is normally not allowed to do by John. When John switched back to "normal" (i.e. non-child) the dog exits the living room.
  • In the case of Barb (married and mother of 2 children): Whenever she switches to the personality of Mae (a 5 year old child) she doesnt seem to need her glasses anymore! Somehow her vision is then corrected.
So, how can a dog sense the change in personality?(just voice? behavior?)

And, how is is possible that when someone changes personality they would suddenly not need their glasses anymore?...
I thought that bad eyesight was something physical, not psychological... (?)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Shop your funeral

"What will make your funeral unique?" (this is what is written on the poster above - what you see by the way, is a bus stop in Netherlands)
Behold how consumer society has stretched beyond the realm of the living.

It all started a few years ago, rather innocently, with spots on the radio saying: "Don't leave them (your family) behind with the burden of arranging your funeral. Settle things now instead". Ok, sort of makes sense...

But how amazing to see that now, after carefully introducing the subject a few years ago, we have arrived to the point to view funerals like yet another product and consider it (apparently) perfectly normal to have posters all over the place and jolly TV spots giving you examples of how you can design your own funeral and make it truly unique.

Coming from a culture where funerals are a rather unadorned ceremony (i.e. preacher prays and down you go - no speeches) I must say I am rather shocked to find how funerals are turning (or maybe always were in some cultures?) manifestations of the self. A show with music and moving speeches of people exhibiting how much they loved the person (as if the fact that someone died wasn't emotional enough; we need to reinforce it with speeches). But apparently people have the need to say "these final words", play that song etc. So I guess there is nothing wrong with it.

But somehow, I do get the feeling that "designing" your own funeral with details such as which music should play, if you wanna have your photos all over the place etc is crossing a limit. Somehow, by allowing you to choose all of this you are in fact until your very last breath concerned with your selfimage. During your life you have chosen and bought the nicest clothes, the big house, the fancy car etc, and each one of these items expressed you: you created an image of yourself with these. Now I guess companies have correctly addressed the last missing "thing" you can buy and show your identity with.

Your funeral.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Do you have a father?

"Do you have a father?". This might sound like a strange question to ask but maybe it does make sense after all.

It came from the mouth of a 6 year old girl that I met on my flight to France. Now, many might tend to do this away as one of those strange things kids ask. But I think there is more to it.

As I understood later, this question was purposeful; because after asking this the little girl continued by asking the little boy she was talking to whether he had the same eyes as his father.

Could it be that kids nowadays are very concious of the fact that someone might NOT have a father because they might have two mothers, or a single mum instead?

I don't know the answer but I find it utterly intriguing!

Bones for Photos

So, what do you do when you want to retain the memories of your diseased loved ones but don't have photos or portraits?

Well, you could keep their bones with you! This is what the Fayu do. You can often see bones hanging from the walls inside their huts. (usually single pieces like an arm or head, not a full skeleton)
Just like we do with photos, when you visit someone's home, they will give you a tour showing you the bones and telling you about them.

>>(pointing at the bones) "Look, this is my father, he was a great hunter." <<

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Precious Babies

Baby sleeping
Nothing as precious as a baby... And obviously the loss of one is one of the most horrifying experiences a human being can have, right?... You might be shocked to find that some cultures react differently to the loss of babies.

Like the Fayu, a tribe living in the jungle of West Papua.

In their culture, if a baby dies it will mostly go unnoticed and unmourned. The rationale behind this being that "We didn't really know this baby. He didn't contribute to our society. He didn't tell us stories by the fireplace. We didn't even really know him. We will have another baby next year.". This means that the older a person is the more his loss is mourned.

Before you go on to scream out loud how heartless people they must be, take a moment to think about it. If you look at it rationally it actually makes sense, and if you consider the fact that this is a society where the rate of child death is very high, this might be a comforting way to think about it.

So, is our love for and obsession with children just cultural???

PS: I learned about the Fayu through the book "Jungle Child" by Sabine Kuegler. I strongly recommend it to anyone who is curious about foreign cultures.